The Greek economy is in a bad place. Living standards are low, jobs are scarce, it's a mess.
Greece currently has a very large chunk of national debt which is about to come due on March 20. Greece needs 14.5 billion euros before then, or the nation will default on its debt.
But Greece doesn't have the money. Consequently, the Greek government is trying to get the country bailed out by the European Union and the International Monetary Fund. They're asking to borrow the money they need to pay the debt: essentially they are asking for the debt to be extended.
But there's something odd. Greece owes 14.5 billion euros, but is asking for a bail-out almost ten times that size: 130 billions euros. This extra money is ostensibly meant to fuel the Greek economy, bolstering and stabilizing it. If we are to look at the recent bail-outs in the United States and Ireland, however, it seems likely that much of these excess funds will simply vanish into thin air - eatten up by bankers and CEOs through massive bonuses and pay raises.
In order to get this money from the EU and the IMF, Greek politicians are being forced to push legislature through the Greek Parliament. Greek law is currently literally being dictated by corporate and private interests, not by the people of Greece.
The Greek Parliament just pushed through an "austerity" bill. It calls for massive budget cuts across the board, most noticeably in the areas of wages, pensions, and employment. The minimum hourly wage will be dropped by 22 percent.
This bill has faced monumental public outrage and opposition. With many Greeks already struggling to make ends meet as it is, the prospect of losing their jobs, their pensions, or almost a quarter of their hourly wages is unbearable. Consequently, the Greek people have taken to the streets in widespread protests. Anger and frustration is running very high, and protesting has given way to rioting. The Greek people are on the verge of a mass revolt.
In response to the public unrest, Prime Minister Lucas Papademos issued the following quote: "Vandalism, violence and destruction have no place in a democratic country and won't be tolerated". But, and I am genuinely horrified to say this and wish it wasn't true, Greece cannot be called a democratic country at present.
Prime Minister Papademos was not democratically elected - he was forcibly instated. Greek law is not being democratically legislated - it is being oligarchically dictated. The Greek people are being made to shoulder the burden of debts which they never had a voice in incurring. And perhaps most unbelievable of all, democratically elected representatives were stripped of their positions for dissenting against the majority opinion.
Reuters wrote:Altogether 199 of the 300 lawmakers backed the bill, but 43 deputies from the two parties in the government of Prime Minister Lucas Papademos, the socialists and conservatives, rebelled by voting against It. They were immediately expelled by their parties.
This is scary, scary stuff people. This could set off world changing trends. Keep your eyes open and your fingers crossed that things don't go from bad to worse.